US President Donald Trump is considering moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, US officials say, a move that could reverse decades of American foreign policy and increase tensions in the Middle East.
Trump is mulling over a plan under which he would recognize and declare al-Quds the capital of Israel, the US officials said Thursday, deviating from his predecessors who have insisted that it is a matter that must be decided in peace negotiations.
Trump is likely to make an announcement next week after months of intense White House deliberations, said the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, the officials said the plan has yet to be finalized and Trump could still modify parts of it.
“No decision has been made on that matter yet,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday.
Even holding discussions on the issue is a shift from previous administrations, which concluded that such provocative measures only risk ratcheting up tensions in the region.
Despite the relocation plan, the officials said Trump is likely to sign a six-month waiver this week overriding a 1995 US law requiring that the American embassy be moved, continuing his predecessors’ policy.
Trump had vowed during his presidential campaign that he would relocate the US embassy in order to court pro-Israel voters. Former US Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama promised the same thing during their election campaigns, but later reversed their proposals.
Palestinians have repeatedly warned Trump against such an action, saying it would deliver a death blow to any prospects of the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and fuel extremism in the region.
Most of the world does not recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and the city is considered occupied territory.
The Israeli regime has attempted to change the demographic buildup of al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.